updated 10:10 am EST, Wed December 10, 2008
Verizon 4G Due Early
Verizon provided surprise news late Tuesday when company chief technical officer Dick Lynch revealed at Cisco's C-Scape Conference that the company's 4G-level Long Term Evolution cellular service should be available in some form before the end of 2009. The carrier until now has only publicly promised active 4G service by 2010 but should have at least some form of deployed service "somewhere here in the US" within a year's time, according to the official. The move also steps up Verizon's wider expansion of the service, which will ultimately replace both CDMA calling and EVDO data.
The plans will potentially give Verizon an advantage for data service in the US and will put it slightly ahead of Bell and Telus, both of whom plan to start their own LTE services in early 2010. T-Mobile also plans a similar move. Sprint has just started running 4G through its WiMAX network but will theoretically be outpaced by the more advanced nature of LTE, which theoretically peaks at 100Mbps in most final implementations versus WiMAX's 10Mbps.
AT&T eventually plans to move to LTE but has said it will move more slowly in part because its 3G upgrades will provide sufficient speeds until the transition is ready.
Lynch adds that Verizon will use its 4G service to significantly expand the reach beyond cellphones and conventional PC cards. The company hopes to have femtocells, or local routers that create a cellular hotspot indoors, available shortly after LTE becomes available. The devices will allow users to maintain a fast connection indoors and should also include Wi-Fi for more conventional short-range networks.
Home electronics are also more likely to start bundling the service, the Verizon executive says, and could include cameras or other non-traditional devices that bypass computers altogether. As a result, Lynch says the company plans to increasingly divorce service subscriptions from devices.